Hands-On Learning: A Day at the Zoo

Taking your student to the zoo is a great way to engage with them outside of the classroom and enjoy a hands-on learning experience together.

Use this the guide below to make your trip engaging, educational, and enjoyable.


Before your visit:

  • Read a book about your child’s favorite animal to learn more about where it lives, what they eat, and what the animal sounds like.
  • Watch videos online of the animals in their habitat.
    • Ask your student about what he or she observes

During your Visit:

  • Encourage your student to ask the animal keepers questions about the animals.
  • Have your child count how many animals are in a habitat.
    • Have them make predictions about why some habitats have several animals and some only have a few.
  • Review key vocabulary words to build emerging reading skills. Examples include:
    • Keeper
    • Habitat
    • Species
    • Mammal
    • Conservation
    • Enclosure
    • Endangered

After your visit:

  • Ask the student the following questions:
    • What was your favorite animal? Why?
    • What animal surprised you? Why?
  • Play an animal walk game where you take turns naming an animal and walking like it. For example, run like a cheetah, slither like a snake, and stomp like an elephant.
  • Create a zoo guidebook with pictures and words to describe the different animals that you saw at the zoo.

Parent Pro-Tips

  • Plan ahead by looking up the daily programs and the attractions you want to see on the zoo map to make the most of your day.
  • Don’t be shy: Ask animal keepers and zoo staff questions about the animals.
  • Check the zoo’s website and download any zoo-provided activity sheets for the kids to do during or after the visit to the zoo.